8.5 | GREAT
‘The Mandalorian’ might not be perfect. Still, its engaging story and captivating characters make the series some of the best Star Wars content since probably, the original trilogy of films.
In season 2, Mando and Baby Yoda continue their adventures through the galaxy, meeting new friends and foes along the way.
When Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s series first premiered in Disney+ last year, many were skeptical of how it could manage to live up to the greatest of Star Wars. However, it was quick to notice the complete care given to the show by its creators and its exciting rotating directors, making the show an absolute blast from start to finish. In the end, it became one of the most memorable television experiences of the past year. Still, there was a slight worry that season 2 would not live up to its first season. I am glad to say that this was not the case. Although far from flawless, I believe season 2 has blown the first season out of the water with a tremendous and heartfelt story that is sure to be remembered for years to come.
Season 2, much like its predecessor, featured some obvious “filler” episodes of Pedro Pascal’s Din Djardin and Baby Yoda breaking away from the main adventure. Nevertheless, those episodes work far better this time than before. My issue with the first season was that it often felt like many episodes had no emotional consequence and didn’t advance the story further. This time around, the episodes all have a meaningful purpose, from introducing a vital object for later on or moving character arcs forward (with Chapter 7, in particular, being a standout at this). There are still some weaker episodes like Chapter 2 by director Peyton Reed. Yet, even there, the sheer scale of the story and visuals are something to behold. In particular, these episodes become all the more meaningful when looking at the big picture and arriving at epic episodes like Dave Filoni’s Chapter 13, which introduces Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano.
Speaking of performances, Pedro Pascal once again shines in the central role. Despite his minimal appearances without a helmet, his voice work is perfect. When he does take it off, he delivers a heartfelt and emotional performance, especially in the last few moments of the season finale, Chapter 8. Giancarlo Esposito is excellent, as always, as Moff Gideon, one of the best villains the franchise has put forward. Gina Carano also does a good job portraying Cara Dune, as do Rosario Dawson, Carl Weathers, Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, and others. However, they surprisingly have very minimal appearances throughout the season.
As mentioned before, the season is not without its faults. Despite the vast improvement with the “filler” episodes’ storylines, they still often feel like drifting off from the main story, which can be distracting. It also begins to feel slightly rushed towards the end, which is surprising given the show’s overall slow-pace, which leaves you wondering if perhaps Favreau should spend more episodes building up the main story. The show does this so often that episodes sometimes feel like pitches for spin-offs, which can be distracting from Mando’s storyline. The season also ends on a sure-to-be controversial and jaw-dropping note, which is hard not to admit mixed feelings. The series has worked very well because of its isolated story from the movies’ leading players, with only occasional cameos, so the ending seems to backtrack on that premise. It’s not to say that it won’t work; it’s just that it ends up feeling unearned, almost like an afterthought to an otherwise incredible season. It also doesn’t help that the CGI involved in that ending is not particularly great either.
In the end, The Mandalorian season 2 is far from perfect and suffers in particular during its uneven ending. However, it remains one of the best television series right now, in large part thanks to Mando and Grogu’s heartfelt relationship and an increasingly engaging story.